AT&T Launching $15 streaming service? Here’s what we know

Late last week, the blogs were once again abuzz with rumors. While testifying in AT&T’s trial against the US Government regarding the Time Warner purchase, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson revealed that the company is planning to launch a new streaming service. Here’s what we know.

AT&T Watch, $15, no sports

Really that’s the whole story. It will be called “AT&T Watch,” be a $15 monthly charge, and it will be a live TV package with no sports content. Seriously. That’s all there is.

It was revealed under oath

The service’s name and the few details we have were revealed at trial. Honestly if it hadn’t come out that way I wouldn’t have even believed it. One of the first to break the story was the normally unreliable Hollywood Reporter, whose DIRECTV and AT&T knowledge is about as deep as a typical Disney channel show. Still, other respected news outlets took it up and so it looks to be a real thing.

Still it’s funny…

Despite a massive push for DIRECTV NOW at its latest hush-hush Revolution dealer expo, there was no mention of AT&T Watch. None. Zero. If we’re just weeks away from something happening you would think that the biggest, best-performing AT&T dealers in the company would have some sort of heads up as to what was coming.

Here’s our take:

Look, he said it under oath. Something is coming. We know what it will be called, we know it won’t have sports, we know what it will cost. Beyond that, we don’t know anything. So it’s up to us to speculate. We know that AT&T looks at streaming television as a big part of its strategy. When the company first announced its streaming service, it was part of a three-pronged attack on streaming. The other two prongs never came, although for a short time AT&T did have an app called Fullscreen which was intended to be a Hulu competitor. I’m sad to say that Fullscreen did so poorly that I didn’t even notice when it folded last November. Meanwhile, DIRECTV NOW continues to grow unabated.

What will AT&T Watch be?

The first thing you notice here is the name. Interestingly, it’s devoid of the word “DIRECTV.” Despite dogged claims from uninformed naysayers, the DIRECTV name isn’t going away. So why is AT&T not using it here? For some reason they want this to be thought of as an AT&T product. This probably means it will be mobile only, no streaming boxes allowed.

They also named it “Watch.” My first thought there was it was going to literally be a product for smartwatches, but that seems rather silly given the screen size. Most likely what we’ll see is a single-user, single-screen solution.

How much content can you get for $15?

AT&T’s lawyers are smart, but there comes a point where it’s impossible to squeeze your opponent. My guess is that for $15 you won’t get local channels, any sports content, and you probably won’t get any Disney-owned content of any kind. Most likely it will be a bundle of “basic cable” type channels similar to the bottom-end packages from their competitors. There will be no ability to pause or skip commercials. I do predict that every single Time Warner-owned channel will be there.

Who is this aimed toward?

It almost looks like AT&T Watch could be aimed at women over 35. This group still has a lot of purchasing power but they’re much pickier than their millennial counterparts. AT&T Watch could give them HGTV, DIY, their news channel of choice, as well as comfort-food channels like TV Land. I know a few people who would be 100% happy with nothing more than that. Only problem is that crowd doesn’t watch much TV on their phones.

That’s where “FREE” comes in.

AT&T Watch is expected to be free for all AT&T Wireless customers. This could be a gateway to getting older customers into a pricier data plan. Why? We believe the service will be free but we don’t know yet if you’ll be able to stream it without using your data allowance. Most likely AT&T customers will be able to stream as much as they want, but other customers from other cell services won’t. This could drive some people to AT&T, but interestingly it could also drive profits for the competition if people are forced to go to a higher data tier.

Folks, this is all speculation. I promise, I’m not holding anything back. I’m as curious as you to find out what’s going on and when it’s coming. When it does… I’ll give you a full review.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.